We’ve been taught that change can be a scary thing, especially when it concerns your organization. There’s no need to be afraid anymore. This is why.
As customer-centricity becomes the top priority for executives, business leaders across all industries have been challenged to “transform” the customer experience. But what does that really mean? What does it take to create change in an organization? What is the best way to initiate a transformation project?
The answers to these questions are simpler than you think. The success of organizational change relies more on the way you carry it out rather than the change itself. It takes drive and effort to lead business transformations. We want to help pave the way for your own transformational journey.
Leadership vs. Management
First things first, there’s a great distinction between a leader and manager: leadership is about inspiring, motivating, and encouraging action towards an ideal. Management is the task through which a project is carried out, the way it is processed, controlled, and directed.
Although transformation requires an effective balance of both, the first step to create change comes with a leader. Leaders need to have a vision and be passionate about the prospective mission and the goals they want to achieve. Without drive and devotion to a common purpose, it may be difficult to go through the process of transformation.
A vision is a fundamental asset since it provides a picture of what the future should look like, providing aspiration and direction, illustrated by opportunities. With a clear vision in sight and the right people to lead the way, the next step is to make it happen.
The ADKAR Framework
The ADKAR model (2003) was created by Jeff Hiatt, founder of a company dedicated to management change, Prosci. The model stands for a series of individual outcomes necessary to achieve organizational change (hence the acronym for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement). Transformation is about team collaboration and having all your employees “wear the jacket” even if it feels a little iffy at first. Take some time, try it on, and you may discover a lot more benefits than you initially thought.
As Alida, we went through a huge transformation ourselves. In 2020, we rebranded our company and transformed from a traditional market research provider to a visionary CXM company. Our transformational success happened because of people who worked really hard behind the scenes to make it happen, and those who were open to giving it a try (or “wore the jacket”).
Awareness is especially significant since it reveals why change is important and/or necessary. It’s crucial to illustrate the opportunities that come with the transformation and how it will benefit the organization and the people who comprise it. Without awareness, the company risks experiencing resistance throughout the process, leading to internal conflict and maybe resignations. Communication and understanding are key to creating awareness: you must let your employees know that their opinions and feedback on the matter are being heard.
The second step is to create desire. Once your team becomes aware of the need for change, it’s your duty as a leader to persuade them into wanting the transformation. As mentioned before, if change is not handled correctly, it can lead to a high volume of obstruction and noninvolvement. In order to avoid chaos, planting desire in each individual is essential, as it’s up to them to participate and support the organization’s new trajectory that will drive positive results.
This can be achieved by incentivizing your employees with potential wins and emphasizing the company’s culture to create a strong sense of organizational belonging. Another tactic to generate desire is to align each team's KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to the monetary gains that the transformation can provide (quotas, commissions, bonuses, etc.).
During this milestone, the answer to “how” the change will be carried out should be enacted. Your employees need to know what will happen during the transformation period and what will happen afterwards. They need to be aware of their tasks during this time and how everything will be carried out. Having this information is likely to encourage confidence and positive mindsets towards implementation of the project. Education and training are great ways to establish knowledge in order to have people feel familiar with the transformation process and prepare them to take action. Change can be scary, avoid surprises at all costs!
After preparation, action must follow. This is the part where you should ask yourself: In my role, how does this knowledge come to play? What actions must I take to contribute to the transformation? What piece of the puzzle am I in this whole process? Needless to say, this fourth step refers to the individual and collective ability to make the transformation happen, wherein people begin actioning towards the common goal.
Dedication to the transformation project is paramount. At this stage, all efforts are magnetized and the aforementioned drive and passion are put on display.
Once action has taken place and the transformation has been achieved, it is time to reinforce the strategies that drove the project to success. Reinforcement is an ongoing exercise that shouldn’t only be about working on reimplementation, but also the continuous celebration of the success that everyone worked so hard to achieve.
It’s also the time to talk about the value that was brought upon with change, to talk about the amazing people who made it happen, and to celebrate the overall organizational accomplishments with meaningful rewards, credit and recognition, corrective actions and feedback. Working to sustain the change is important, but never forget the crucial task of taking a step back and valuing all your wins.
Now you are all tooled up to set up any organizational transformation for success. Whether it’s to bring the Voice of Customer into your product innovation process, transform how you conceive marketing campaigns and messaging, or completely rethink the experiences you deliver to customers and employees, the ADKAR framework —along with strong vision and leadership— will guide you to a rewarding transformational outcome.
Ashutosh leads CX Consulting & Services (EMEA & APAC) at Alida. He has been helping Global brands transform their customer experience, and thereby help scale up their customer acquisitions, retention, Up/ Cross Sells and Referrals. His unique 360 degree experience across Sales/ Marketing leadership, Customer Success, Brand/Product Management & Digital Transformation helps him be holistic in his approach to CX Transformation.